At 70 years old, Amitabh Bachchan has acted in more than 180 films, won scores of awards and once held the top spot on Box Office India’s highest-earning actors list for 16 consecutive years. He is also a producer and singer whose family is its own industry dynasty: His wife is Jaya Bhaduri Bachchan, who worked with legendary director Satyajit Ray, and his son is Bollywood movie star Abhishek Bachchan, who is married to Aishwarya Rai. In a nod to Bachchan’s clout at home, he recently Q&A’d Steven Spielberg for a Reliance-sponsored event during the director’s swing through Mumbai. But Bachchan had never had a role in a Hollywood production until Baz Luhrmann recruited him to play underworld businessman Meyer Wolfsheim in The Great Gatsby. Bachchan keeps a meticulous blog that he updates daily and on it he recently posted the story of how he came to be cast in the movie and offered some insight into the filming. The Great Gatsby premieres in New York on May 1 and opens the Cannes Film Festival on May 15. “At the end of all this,” Bachchan recently wrote, “I would require a year to recover from symptoms of acute delusion as to what, where and why I am.” His Gatsby blog post is excerpted on the next page:

 It all started with a public relations lady calling my office and informing me that Mr Baz Luhrmann was wanting to talk to me for a project he was involved in. I thought it was a bad joke and ignored the lady. But when it came repeatedly, I agreed. Baz Luhrmann had a couple of years ago, while travelling through India with a friend on a motorbike, visited me at my office… Now as I waited to connect with him on Skype, I wondered whether he would remember my face and how we would converse. But the connection was good, the offer for doing a small role was accepted… and soon we were exchanging notes voices and intonations for the Jewish mafia head Meyer Wolfshiem in ‘20’s New York!…

Came the time for the shoot at Sydney, and the apprehension grew… Baz called me over the first day to his home, a warm old world charmed structure, well maintained, with his polished motorbike and a Ganesh on his verandah… soon as we sat in his office section the others arrived – Leonardo, Toby and Joel Edgerton… The next day it was back to the studio and to the cute little cottage that was exclusively Baz Luhrmann’s work place. The entire cast was there. In a small but comfortable dining table all the main artists, about 15 of us sat down to an introduction of the film its niceties and how the atmosphere of the film would be. After a quick snack there, we shifted to the main floor, where the entire participants sat down to another reading with mikes and cameras recording all that was being spoken. Then we read again the entire script, asked to move about as we deemed fit. And then another reading, in the presence of a test audience, which sat about us quietly noting all that was being enacted. This completed, there was a question answer session. The test audience made remarks, the artists spoke about what they felt, Baz gave his inputs and then we wrapped for the day…

The sets were an eye opener for me. Grand and colossal in its presence and opulence… All about was like an imagination fructifying to reality. The sincerity of all that worked, including the main stars, the earnestness of the director his crew and the unimaginable detail of authenticity, all added up to an experience which when I returned to my room, could not fathom !!… I can say that in my 44 years and 180 films I had never worked in such a set up. Thank you Baz Luhrmann and his crew, and Warners for this experience.